Pro-Kremlin newscaster mocks Brittney Griner prisoner swap

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Pro-Kremlin newscaster mocks Brittney Griner prisoner swap

A Russian state TV presenter mocked President Biden’s prisoner swap of “Merchant of Death” arms dealer Viktor Bout for WNBA star Brittney Griner, claiming Griner got sprung from behind bars before long-suffering US prisoner Paul Whelan because of identity politics.

Bout “was not exchanged for the heroic spy,” Margarita Simonyan said on her show Thursday, referring to Whelan, who in her view had “three problems.”

A picture of RT chief Margarita Simonyan.
A Russian state TV presenter, Margarita Simonyan, mocked President Biden’s prisoner swap of “Merchant of Death” arms dealer Viktor Bout for WNBA star Brittney Griner.

A picture of RT chief Margarita Simonyan.
Bout “was not exchanged for the heroic spy,” Simonyan said during the show.

“The first problem is that he is white. His second problem is he is a man, his third problem is he is a heterosexual, that is something that cannot be forgiven today.”

The US attempted to negotiate a swap of Bout for both Griner and Whelan, but the talks reportedly broke down over Russian demands that convicted assassin Vadim Krasikov, who is imprisoned for life in Germany, be included in the deal.

A picture of Viktor Bout.
Bout was serving a 25-year prison sentence in the United States on several charges, including conspiring to kill Americans.

A picture of Paul Whelan.
Paul Whelan is a former US Marine who’s been jailed in remote Russia since 2018 on espionage charges.

A picture of Brittney Griner.
Griner flew home to Texas Friday after being detained in Russia since February.
AP

Russia claims that Whelan, a former US Marine who’s been jailed in remote Russia since 2018 on espionage charges, is an American agent. He denies the allegations, as do U.S. officials.

Griner flew home to Texas Friday after being detained in Russia since February for possessing cannabis oil in her suitcase.

Biden has expressed regret over leaving Whelan behind — at least for now.

“For totally illegitimate reasons, Russia is treating Paul’s case differently,” Biden said.

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